The central philosophy behind the Kia brand’s perennial gains in sales and market share remains the same today as it was at the start – unrelenting innovation. Already a juggernaut in the compact-crossover segment (following the debut of the current-generation Sportage in 2010, sales tripled in just the first year of production) the Sportage builds on its exceptional quality, superior value and class-leading fuel economy for 2012 by adding a slew of new features meant to make the best compact utility vehicle you can buy even better.
Unlike its boxy, bottom-line competitors, the Sportage lineup blends high levels of performance and refinement in a sleek, “Euro-cool” shape. This year, the Sportage raises refinement in ride, interior comfort and infotainment technology to new heights. Best of all, this further boost in quality and content does nothing to the status of the Sportage as a value leader. In fact, Consumers Digest magazine named the new 2012 Kia Sportage a “Best Buy,” an award bestowed upon the vehicle offering “the most value for the money in its class.”
Kia offers the Sportage in four versions: Base (MSRP $18,500), LX (MSRP $20,800), EX (MSRP $23,900) and SX (MSRP $26,900).
The big news for 2012 is the addition of the UVO in-car-connectivity system. Employing groundbreaking Microsoft voice-activated technology, UVO allows you to make and receive calls, access music and receive and respond to text messages, all through simple spoken commands. Along with voice activation, UVO also incorporates a 4.3-inch color LCD touch-screen and a one GB hard drive for storing media content. Shift the Sportage into reverse, and the touch screen automatically displays images from the available Rear Backup Camera, ensuring safe backing maneuvers. UVO is standard equipment on EX and SX trim levels.
You’ll also find advanced technology inside the engine bay, where the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder powerplant features lightweight aluminum construction, continuously variable valve timing and gasoline direct injection. Putting such innovation to good use, the 2.4-liter mill cranks out 176 hp and 168 lb/ft of torque while returning up to 32 mpg on the highway.
Making high-performance a priority, the top-level SX boasts a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 260 hp and 269 lb/ft of torque. Thanks in part to a twin-scroll turbocharger, torque delivery is instantaneous, guaranteeing ample off-the-line power and assured passing on interstates. For all its performance capability, the SX still ensures that you’ll be a stranger at the pump, delivering as much as 29 highway mpg.
The Base model comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission, while the rest of the lineup receives an electronic six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic®. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Sportage. The optional full-time on-demand DynaMax AWD system (available on all but the Base model) employs a variety of sensors that continuously monitor vehicle speed and traction. Unlike other AWD systems, which are strictly reactive, DynaMax actually anticipates changes in driving conditions and adjusts torque delivery to help tame wheel slips and hold the line under hard cornering.
Another enhancement for 2012: The Sportage features new suspension components that raise the level of ride refinement to rival that of some luxury cars. The switch to dynamic dampers (shock absorbers) in the multi-link rear suspension helps to smooth washboard roads while sharpening responsiveness. Increased use of floor insulation creates an even more tranquil driving environment.
Comfort goes hand-in-hand with confidence at speed thanks to a roster of standard driver-assistance technology, ranging from four-wheel antilock disc brakes and Electronic Stability Control to Hill Start Assist Control and Electronic Brake-Force Distribution. Combining this package of driver aids with an impressive roster of passive and active restraint systems, including Full-length Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor, helped the new Sportage earn a 2012 “Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
When it’s time to haul cargo, you’ll forget the “compact” label as soon as you fold the second-row seat and find 54.6 cubic feet of maximum cargo space. Regardless of trim level, you’ll find a bountiful list of standard features in the Sportage. Even the Base model offers such items as Bluetooth connectivity, USB/auxiliary input jacks, 16-inch alloy wheels and a four-speaker AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 audio system with door-mounted tweeters.
In the LX, the list broadens to include power door locks with remote keyless entry, 17-inch alloys and dual body-color power mirrors with LED turn-signal indicators, while the EX adds things like LED daytime running lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a back-up warning system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-shift knob, 18-inch alloy wheels and an auto-folding 60/40-split/folding rear seat.
Choosing the top-level SX brings luxury exclusives such as leather seat trim, push-button start with Smart Key, dual exhaust and a black glossy/chrome front grille. A variety of option packages offer personalization choices that include a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, an air-cooled driver’s seat and voice-command navigation with SIRIUS Traffic.
In their review, the editors at Edmunds.com praised the new Sportage for offering “a near-ideal balance of style and substance, with an eye-catching look and a lively driving character that many of its competitors can’t match.” When you’re ready for the compact crossover that uses relentless innovation to leave its rivals in the rear-view, contact us to schedule a test drive of the 2012 Kia Sportage.